By definition, to be adrift means something or someone is without purpose or guidance or perhaps lost and confused. Often this term is used in reference to maritime issues for instance in the case of a boat that has come loose from its moorings on the pier. As believers, we have been provided by God with our moorings, namely the Word of God. It is the bedrock foundation for our lives. Once we begin to look elsewhere for guidance or when we elevate man-made traditions above Scripture, we can become adrift in our perspective on matters of the faith to include our personal relationship with God as well as the manner in which we understand activities within the church.
Thus, to understand the foundation as opposed to where one has set adrift requires a bit of examination and comparison. This is exactly the focus of Matthew Ferris in his book Evangelicals Adrift: Supplanting Scripture with Sacrementalism. Specifically, he addresses the unfortunate reality that evangelicalism has embraced elements of religious tradition to our detriment, most notably when that embracing results in an imbalanced view of things with Scripture taking a back seat.
Ferris adroitly notes “All Christian traditions claim to base their faith and practice on the Scriptures. Whether liturgical or evangelical, all affirm that the Bible is the basis of authority, but to what degree, or whether in combination with other sources – this is where divisions are found.” Step into any church and you will encounter a variety of liturgical traditions ranging from how one partakes in communion to how baptisms are conducted to the order of service. Some activities are based on denominational tradition with arguably no clear command in Scripture and while they may not have a direct lineage in Scripture, they do not rise to the level of creating an imbalance between tradition and biblical authority. Other traditions; however, can and do create theological tensions between institutional orientations and Scripture and it is those issues Ferris spends time unpacking.
He does so by tracing the flow of church history, noting where many church traditions and doctrinal positions derived. He aptly notes the tendency by some to place a great deal of emphasis on the writings of the Early Church Fathers (ECF) to the extent their writings are considered first on matters of theology over and above Scripture. While referring to the writings of godly men is often helpful and it is quite valuable on numerous occasions to study their perceptions on theology, they are after all fallible men. Ferris rightly reminds the reader to be careful about elevating man’s word above God’s Word and the constant need to keep to the firm mooring of Scripture or we will continue toward the path of evangelical drift away from Sola Scriptura.
All in all I found this to be a rather helpful book. Ferris makes a number of important and valuable points for the reader to grab hold of. Along the way, he does an excellent job of examining church history in order to see where we as the Body of Christ have drifted and where we are to be maintaining our hold on the lifeline of Scripture in the present.
I received this book for free from Great Writing via Cross Focused Reviews and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”